Waco, Texas — Although physical activity improves both genders’ satisfaction with body appearance and function, older adults’ respective concerns differ, Medical News Today reports.
Baylor University researchers surveyed nearly 1,900 adults (average age, 69) participating in a physical activity program for seniors. Investigators found that as men and women age, their body-satisfaction priorities shift from appearance toward functionality — and that when the two genders’ concerns are compared, satisfaction with body functionality appears to be more important to men than to women. The study also showed that increasing body satisfaction in appearance and function serves to reduce symptoms of depression among older adults.
When researchers studied men and women as a combined group, greater improvements in satisfaction with body function were associated with being younger, having better baseline health ratings, greater reductions in body mass index (BMI) and more physical activity. Greater improvements in satisfaction with body appearance were associated with obtaining a college degree, more reductions in BMI and depressive symptoms, and increases in physical activity.
Medical News Today quotes lead author Renee Umstattd, Ph.D., as saying, “In one way, this is a little disheartening to think that women and men are still wrestling with being satisfied with the appearance of their bodies, even after a life full of various points of meaning.
“From another angle, the study provides support to promote increased physical activity for older adults and provide effective programming to increase physical activity rates of older adults. Increases in physical activity improve satisfaction in both body appearance and function.”